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Unit of study_

ICLS2624: Great Books 1: The Human Condition

What are the great spiritual and philosophical works of world literature? How have they come to be so regarded? What is it that has made them so enduring and adaptable What is their relevance to a postmodern society? This unit introduces in English translation and from a contemporary perspective some of the literary cornerstones of reflection on the human condition, and seeks to reveal and understand some of their continuing power.


Academic unit International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies
Unit code ICLS2624
Unit name Great Books 1: The Human Condition
Session, year
Semester 2, 2023
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

12 credit points at 1000 level from ICLS or English or European Studies or (12 credit points at 1000 or 2000 or 3000 level from Arabic Language and Cultures or Chinese Studies or French and Francophone Studies or Germanic Studies or Modern Hebrew or Indonesian Studies or Italian Studies or Japanese Studies or Korean Studies or Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies or Spanish and Latin American Studies or History)
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Benjamin Nickl,
Lecturer(s) Benjamin Nickl ,
Sonia Wilson,
Anthony Dracopoulos,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay 2
40% Formal exam period
Due date: 13 Nov 2023 at 23:59
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Presentation 10 minute Oral Presentation with one page written plan (equivalent to)
10% Ongoing 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO5 LO3
Participation Participation
10% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO5
Assignment Essay 1
40% Week 09
Due date: 06 Oct 2023 at 23:59
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: Unit structure, contents and general aim. What makes us human? Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Module 1: Homer and the Homeric Question ('The Iliad') Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 03 Module 1: Homer and the Homeric Question ('The Iliad') Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 04 Module 1: Homer and the Homeric Question ('The Iliad') Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 05 Module 1: Homer and the Homeric Question ('The Iliad') Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 06 Module 2 : Goethe’s 'Faust' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 07 Module 2 : Goethe's 'Faust' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 08 Module 2 : Goethe's 'Faust' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 09 Module 2 : Goethe's 'Faust' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 10 Module 3 : 'Pandemic Literature' Introduction Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 11 Module 3 : Camus 'The Plague' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 12 Module 3 : Camus' 'The Plague' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 13 Module 3 : Camus' 'The Plague' Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.

  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.

  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

To purchase for this unit (Required)

  • Homer Iliad, (tr. Fagles), New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking Penguin, 1990. Advice: Other editions fine.
  • Camus The Plague (tr. Robin Buss) Penguin Modern Classics, 2002. Advice: Later editions fine. Try to get the Buss translation. If not possible, the Stuart Gilbert translation is fine – we can compare and discuss translations as part of class. 

All other readings will be availble online and/or through the Library list.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. compare historically and culturally grounded undertandings of 'the human condition'
  • LO2. discuss the role of generic conventions in shaping understandings of 'the human condition'
  • LO3. critically assess secondary sources
  • LO4. use textual and contextual evidence in order to construct a written argument.
  • LO5. Communicate effectively and ethically in oral and written form (on-line and off)

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
This module has been revised in accordance with the new learning and societal context: a) a 10% participation mark has been introduced to encourage students to post regularly on each other's work on the Discussion Board. b) A new module focusing specifically on Camus' 'The Plague' and its place in what is now termed 'pandemic literature' has been introduced.


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